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Antarctica | © Andreas Kambanis/Flickr
Antarctica | © Andreas Kambanis/Flickr

First 'Floating' Biennale To Take Place In Antarctica

Picture of Ella O'Neill
Ella O'Neill
Updated: 23 October 2016
Inspired by the potential of Antarctica as a ‘blank canvas’, 2016 will see the first ever Antarctic Biennale. The brainchild of Russian artist Alexander Ponomarev with support from curator Nadim Samman, the biennale takes place on board two ships that will set sale for a expedition in March 2017 from Ushuaia.

The ethos of the biennale is based on the idea that Antarctica exists as the last free continent in the world. The 1959 International Treaty details that the continent does not belong under any state. Instead, the uninhabited land should be used entirely for creative purposes and scientific research, making it the ideal setting for artists of all nationalities to come together and showcase their work.


The event will take place on two ships from the Russian Academy of Sciences, ordinarily used for research trips. They are well-equipped and capable of facilitating the expedition and plan to accommodate 50-100 explorers, half of whom will be the artists featured in the exhibition. The ships are set to sail from Argentina to the Falkland Islands, on to south Georgia, through the Drake passage, before finally arriving in Antarctica. At each stop, the artists will assemble their portable installations, exhibit their pieces and and show their performances. Each individual stop will be documented in detail using both photography and film, and after the journey there are plans for several exhibitions to be staged at various Russian, American and European museums.

The ships will begin at Ushuaia, temporarily stopping at a number of locations before completing its journey in Antarctica. Accommodating artists and technical crew alike, the whole trip is set to last 10 days, dependent on weather conditions. The Antarctic Biennale is set to take place every two years, aiming to present itself as a ‘floating laboratory of ideas about humanity’.